A couple of weeks ago we released the first installment of Germinate. Karen Azarnia graciously let us into her studio and gave us an insight on curating Radiance at Woman Made Gallery and her own artwork. She mentioned the upcoming show for the artist in-residence, Paola Cabal at Riverside Art Center, where, like in Radiance, light would be the muse. Here is a little conversation with Paola about Crescent, the culmination of her residence at RAC.
A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Paola Cabal has lived in Chicago since 2001. Trained in observational realism, Cabal continues to implement responsive looking in her increasingly diverse practice, which includes site-specific installation, collaborative work, and more recently curating and writing in addition to her ongoing engagement with more traditional drawing media. Alongside her own art-making, Paola Cabal is an active member of the three-person collaborative (ƒ)utility projects and an educator at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and DePaul University.
Paola normally creates site specific installations tracking the transitions of daylight. For Crescent, at RAC , Cabal spent the night of 7.31 to 8.1 tracking the passing of the “blue moon” light through the gallery windows as it played with the architecture of the gallery. The end result: a series of shapes on both walls and floors that trick you into believing there is light coming into the room from multiple light sources. In actuality, all you are seeing are lightly painted ghosts of the light that used to be, making us think about the passage of time and fleeting moments.
“The not knowing and then the coming to an idea (the moonlight was a gift, I had no idea it would come into the space that way), and then working like mad to make that happen.”
DG: Is there anything you’d like to share about your process?
PC: Sure, there’s something that’s been on my mind since I had a conversation with Diane Simpson, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since: I had no idea what I was going to do at the Freeark Gallery before beginning my residency there. I had no idea. And lest that should sound cavalier or overconfident, let me also say that it stressed me out. I completed a residency at Ragdale in which I was thinking about this show; I got as far as building a scale model of the gallery space, but I *still* didn’t know what I was making.
So, I’m talking about the show with Diane Simpson and she is asking me what I plan to do, and I confess to her that I don’t know. Diane being Diane, and brilliant and sweet, she says “Oh, I’m sure you’ll come up with something great. I have total confidence in you… The thing about the way you work,” she remarked, “Is that you’re kind of inventing it from scratch each time. I don’t know how you do it.,” she said. “It would stress me out so much.”
DG: Yup. Site specific work is terrifying but super rewarding.
PC: I don’t know if it had occurred to me until that conversation though, that most people don’t work that way, that for most artists artistic production involves the creation of a series of discrete objects which are then placed in conversation with one another for a show, rather than dauntingly improvised and immediately responsive reactions to a specific place.
DG: Most site specific work is very responsive. You can plan up to a certain point but most of the time you have to get familiar with the space, listen to what it needs, and embrace whatever happens as you’re working. And when you are done, you feel like a rockstar.
PC: Rock star though, I mean, I wish! Something I think I do share with more traditional makers is the feeling of profound ambivalence that follows after I’ve made anything. As a site specific artist whose work only gets manifest, as such, in the form of a public exhibition, my work can almost be considered a series of public experiments. So I finish, usually sleep deprived, and I mean, I *hope* it’s ok? I think it’s good? Your friends who show up to your exhibition opening are not going to be like “Damn P, Y U make such crappy crap?” I mean, I do thankfully have one or two friends who would give me the straight dope, but for the most part everyone is going to smile and be gracious and wonderful, you know? So that’s little indication whether I’ve made something worth looking at.
Instead, I have to overcome my ambivalence by going back to my own show again and again, kind of making peace with what I would have liked to get to but didn’t, what I did get to but would have liked to do better, until the whole thing either holds up, finally, or collapses under the weight of my continued scrutiny.
I’m marginally better now but what this used to mean is that I would be the worlds’ worst self promoter. My ambivalence would run so deep and continuous and daunting that I wouldn’t even tell people I had a show up. And then like maybe a week before it would close, having finally wrestled myself into a position of affinity or agreement with what I’d made, *then* I’d tell some people that it was there.
In the Sculpture Garden, (ƒ)utility projects (a collaborative comprised of Paola Cabal, Michael Genge, and Chris Grieshaber), have a site specific installation where they merged the garden with the gallery, by incorporating walls, the surrounding trees, and natural night.
Crescent runs through October 3rd.
32 E Quincy St, Riverside, Illinois 60546
I’ve managed my online portfolio through OPP for quite a few years now. I love it because it’s easy to manage and it has quite a variety of templates and other cool features, but it wasn’t until a few months ago I found out they have a pretty legit blog full of wonderful interviews with some of the artists they host. I was approached by the talented, Stacia Yeapanis, who writes the interviews, to do one for the end of summer. It finally came out today. So here it is:
If you like to see the site, here is mine:
Last night the Chicano community lost Reies Lopez Tijerina, someone who I only know from alternative history books to have rubbed elbows with Cesar Chavez and Corky Gonzalez. As with Chicana Role Model, Michele Serros, I’m learning more about him now that he’s gone.
“Tijerina was known internationally for his research and political activism on behalf of land owners in northern New Mexico that wanted to recuperate land lost in violation of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. His mercurial appearance on stage at the 1972 Raza Unida Party National Convention in the El Paso County Coliseum is considered a milestone in national and Texas politics, the birth of an American ethnic political party.” Dennis Bixler-Márquez, UT El Paso
This moment and an interaction with Sean JS Jordan, whose family connects to Tijerina’s work, made me think about some videos that I’ve been meaning to share with you all for over a year. They’re from Summer of 2013, when Brave New Voices was held in Chicago and I first came onboard the BNV train.
“Some people think I’m dead but the spirit of the cause still excites me… Nobody can erase my story.” – Reies Lopez Tijerina
BNV 2013 Finals: Albuquerque, NM
They may not have won medals that year but they certainly annexed my heart. The way this team carried themselves from the beginning of the competition inspired me. After the first round, shooters from the Online Crew were talking about a line in their Border poem: “The border is a color-coated revolving door that only moves in one direction”
Their poems are even more poignant now that some time’s passed. These are the four poems that they brought to the finals:
Rd1: School to Prison Pipeline
“It’s cheaper to hire guards than teachers – Put pencils in our hands so we don’t need guns”
Rd2: White Privilege
“Don’t let your inheritance be one of ignorance – We cordially invite you to join us. There’s plenty of room”
Rd3: The Border
“We are the children and grandchildren of mothers and grandmothers that managed to slip past the radar.”
Rd4: Drug Addiction
“Every penny I saved for college had been crushed and snorted – I was never a good enough reason to stop feeling the high and start feeling the pain”
These Brave New Voices spoke real truths and fought demons that many of us still can’t face today. I weep at the weight of the burdens they carry but find immense hope at how strong they are in the face of those challenges. I was back stage for this competition, collecting footage from the different crews that were in the audience.
It was an honor to watch them compete from my vantage point. When they walked off stage after bearing their souls about the pain that drug addiction is inflicting on their household and communities, I watched them collapse into each other arms and hold each other up. Neither of them had the strength to stand on their own but the three of them got each other through the pain of bearing their souls.
I want to end this post by saying that I feel that same love from the kind souls that have contributed to My Father’s Knee. Your support helps me take ownership of my own narrative, and follow the path of Chicano leaders like Michele Serros, Reies Lopez Tijerina and Team Albuquerque.
The crowdfunding campaign for My Father’s Knee is underway. We’re raising $4000 for Mario’s documentary webseries between now and Feb 15 @ Noon. Things are going smoothly but some of you may be curious about what his cinematic style is.
I think if he were a Youtube musician, he’d fall somewhere between these talented folks that I found via Erika Valenciana and Elliot Serrano. Thanks, you two, for making this morning interesting.
El Hombre Orchestra de Alcapulco – Via Erika Valenciana
Star Wars Melody by Peter Hollens & Lindsey Stirling – Via Elliot Serrano
It’s our pleasure to congratulate Arlen Parsa and Tiffany Wilson on their recent engagement. This dynamic duo has been together as long as we’ve known them and we’ve come to expect great things from them. I knew when they took their camera on a European Vacation that we’d get a lot of great pictures. What I didn’t expect was for Arlen to be such a romantic. Enjoy!